Ref ‘attack’ blights Usuthu
Five AmaZulu players could face heavy sanctions if allegations that they assaulted and verbally abused assistant referee Linos Hobwane are proven. Match officials have threatened to boycott AmaZulu matches following this incident. They have urged the Premier Soccer League (PSL) to act on the matter or they will down tools in solidarity with Hobwane, who was allegedly assaulted by Usuthu players a fortnight ago. The incident allegedly happened after AmaZulu’s 2-0 loss to Baroka FC in a National First Division (NFD) game at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on January 9.
An eyewitness told City Press Hobwane was attacked and verbally abused by at least five AmaZulu players when they walked through the stadium tunnel on the way to the dressing rooms after the final whistle.
“He was not only verbally abused [called “a cheat”] but was hit by fists and kicked on the ankle; he had to go see the doctor, as he was struggling to walk,” said the source.
Hobwane’s “crime” was to award a goal to Baroka after AmaZulu goalkeeper Sage Stephens apparently stopped the ball with his full body behind the goal line, but Usuthu players argued the ’keeper was impeded.
Hobwane could not be reached for comment, but a source close to him said he was traumatised. Referees are demanding the league take action against the perpetrators.
“They should have been charged by now, as it is almost two weeks since this happened. This is intimidation to us and we cannot allow a situation where players and bosses attack our officials,” said a referee who spoke anonymously.
PSL media liaison officer Luxolo September said the matter had been sent to the league prosecutor.
“We have received a report from the match commissioner ... the contents of this report have been sent to the league prosecutor. Once a matter has been forwarded to the prosecutor, we cannot get involved in that process. Unfortunately we cannot discuss the contents of the report. It is not fair on the parties involved,” said September in an emailed response on Friday. AmaZulu have issued an apology on their website. “We note the match commissioner’s report for our fixture versus Baroka FC. We accept that members of our team did commit some misdemeanours, which would have put the [league] and football in disrepute. For that we unreservedly apologise to the league, its sponsors and partners.
“We as a club have resumed a process of taking strong action against perpetrators of some of the misdemeanours ... We have requested footage from the league to assist us in establishing these,” read the statement.
It continued, the “above apology is not an admission of guilt in any way. Nor is it concurring with the match commissioner’s report in full.”
AmaZulu media liaison officer Brilliant Nhlanhla Mkhathini said they had not received correspondence from the league about the matter. He said they felt the need to apologise to the league based on their players’ behaviour.
“We felt our players did not act in a professional manner, as they disrupted the proceedings during the game,” said Mkhathini. He said they had called the players in and would open internal disciplinary proceedings against them.
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